Friday, April 25, 2008

April 16 ... the sun says

How do you judge whether a person is patriotic, less patriotic or not patriotic at all to the country in which the lives? Generally it is difficult to judge another person's level of patriotism until he has committed an act that is deemed patriotic or otherwise. Thus the best thing anyone can do is to avoid labelling another as patriotic or unpatriotic.

It is an emotive word and can cause a lot of unnecessary resentment among those negatively labelled. While the Oxford English Dictionary defines a patriot as a person who is devoted to and ready to defend his or her country, the definition raises the question of how to measure a person's devotion to and readiness or willingness to defend his country. Without having to wait for a demonstration of devotion to or willingness to defend the country, it is generally assumed that those who live as good and law-abiding citizens are in a sense patriots.

There was a public furore not too long ago after the Information Ministry declared that those not flying the Malaysian flag on Merdeka Day are not patriotic. among the question that were asked then were: is just flying the Jalur Gemilang in the compound of your house sufficient indication that you are a patriot, is a person who does not fly the Jalur Gemilang but buys only Malaysian-made products not a patriot or is a person who refuses to send his children to universities abroad in order to contribute to the nation's savings on foreign exchange but does not fly the Jalur Gemilang not a patriot?

Must he sings the Negara Ku loudly to be a patriot? Is a developer who avoids cutting down trees to save the environment when building his houses less a patriot than the man who climbs Mount Everest to plant the Jalur Gemilang at the summit?

The statement that Malaysian youths are getting less patriotic begs the same questions, more so when the statements is made based on a recent government study. The Youth and Sports Ministry which made the statement must make public the content of the report for everyone to know the criteria used in concluding that today's youths are getting less patriotic. Otherwise the ministry and the government stand to lose a lot of credibility insofar as the youths are concerned.

But to win them over to be patriotic and to be involved in nationbuilding, they must be persuaded to see the relevance of every aspect of this nation - its development, its history, its culture and its symbols - to them

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